FARGO, N.D. – Already with three individual high school state titles on his resume, Jered Cortez added more hardware to his impressive collection last weekend.
With a truly dominant effort, the incoming senior at Glenbard North High School became the 2013 Junior National freestyle champion at 126 pounds in Fargo, ND.
Cortez was nearly untouchable throughout the three-day event, winning eight of his 10 matches by technical fall. Even more telling, he allowed just one opponent to score points against him, outscoring the competition by a 92-6 margin.
"It's an amazing feeling," Cortez said. "I feel like I represented my state well and not only my state but my high school, Glenbard North. And I represented my family; my grandparents were there and it means the world to them.
"It was my last trip there (to the Junior Nationals) and I went out with a bang."
The Carol Stream resident entered the tournament with extra motivation after not placing a year ago. "Last year I didn't really achieve the goal that I wanted to," Cortez said. "So I felt like I had something to prove. I had a chip on my shoulder. I marked it on my calender, those dates, for a whole year, and I trained for it.
"That was my goal, I felt I had to make a statement. I know I trained super hard for it and I just had to let it fly and relax and have fun."
The Carol Stream resident went a perfect 20-0 this summer (Cortez wrestled at the regional to qualify for Fargo and also the Junior National duals for Team Illinois) after posting a 52-0 mark during the high school season.
When asked to compare this latest title to his trio of state championships, Cortez said the national version gets the nod.
"It's definitely at the top of my list right now," he said. "It's an unreal feeling. The state titles mean a lot but this is probably the best feeling one, it's an unreal feeling. Now I have one more goal to hit, a fourth state title."
The plan now is to take some time off from the mats to heal up his body, though Cortez will continue to lift weights and condition. Even with the break, the next month promises to be extremely hectic as the incoming senior looks to make his college decision.
On July 1, which was the first day college coaches could make contact with him, Cortez received double-digit phone calls.
"It's crazy but I'm hoping to make my decision coming up pretty soon," he added.